google-site-verification: googlefcdef8d5feed0c6a.html
top of page
SLP and her client happy

What is a Childhood Language Disorder?

Children who have a speech language disorder have trouble understanding and/or communicating language. Speech is the sound produced and language is a measure of comprehension. There are 2 kinds of language disorders – receptive and expressive. Children often have both at the same time. A child with receptive language disorder has trouble understanding words they hear and read. A child with an expressive language disorder means they have difficulty getting their meaning across through speech, writing or even gestures. Some children have a language disorder even though they produce sounds and have clear speech.

1 in 10 children have a diagnosed speech language disorder. Evidence implies that undiagnosed, untreated childhood language disorders put children at a higher risk of social, emotional, behavioral and cognitive problems in adulthood. You can help provide free speech-language therapy to a child today by donating. 

Let’s talk about Numbers:


Language Programs


Hours of Assessment & Treatment


 Average Monthly Caseload of Children


Parents should talk to their children from the earliest months of life. Babies especially enjoy listening to mothers and fathers who talk to them during activities such as bathing and feeding.


Take time to read to your children each day. Even infants enjoy story time with high-interest picture books. Choose age-appropriate books and other reading materials readily available from your public library.


Listen to your children and encourage them to engage in conversations with family members and other children. Children will make mistakes in speech and language as they develop new skills; parents should avoid discouraging children’s development by overcorrecting these mistakes.


More ways to listen...


your child’s speech and language development relative to age-specific language development expectations. Pediatricians/primary care physicians, public health clinics, and public libraries have child development materials including developmental expectations for speech and language.

Take an interest...

in your child’s school activities and participate in homework assignments. Parents should encourage independent problem solving and praise children for completing difficult assignments.

Parents are...

a child’s most important role model. Parents can demonstrate that listening, reading, writing, and learning are enjoyable, lifelong activities. Parents should set aside quiet time for independent reading for themselves and their school age children each day.

Parents can...

request a hearing test and speech and language evaluation if they are concerned about their child’s development. Free screenings are available through the various RiteCare Childhood Language Centers in California. You may contact the California Scottish Rite Foundation.

Girl learning with a speech-Language Therapist

Two years ago, our son could not read. He could not speak in sentences combining phrases or utilizing words containing more than one syllable. Of course, he suffered greatly, and had no confidence, and no joy. Socially he was withdrawn and depressed. He had continuing series of nervous “tics.” Today our beautiful son is reading at grade level and talking with enthusiasm and the flow of a child who is experiencing life!

-Letter from a grateful parent.

boy happy in his classroom

Parents know their children best. If you are concerned about your child’s communication in any way, give a RiteCare Childhood Language Center a call. We are here to answer your questions and there is no charge.



  • Uses and understands at least 50 different words for food, toys, animals, and body parts. Speech may not always be clear—like du for “shoe” or dah for “dog.”

  •  Puts two or more words together—like more water or go outside.

  •  Follows two-step directions—like “Get the spoon, and put it on the table.”

  •  Uses words like me, mine, and you.

  •  Uses words to ask for help.

  •  Uses possessives, like Daddy’s sock.



  • Frequently uses word combinations but may occasionally repeat some phrases, such as "baby – baby – baby sit down" or "I want – I want juice."

  • Seeks your attention by saying, "Look at me!"

  • Responds with their name when asked.

  • Uses some plural forms like "birds" or "toys."

  • Employs –ing verbs like "eating" or "running," and adds –ed to verbs to indicate past actions, such as "looked" or "played."

  • Provides reasons for things and events, for example, saying they need a coat when it's cold.

  • Asks questions like "why" and "how."

  • Answers questions such as “What do you do when you are sleepy?” or “Which one can you wear?”

  • Correctly pronounces the sounds p, b, m, h, w, d, and n in words.

  • Pronounces most vowel sounds accurately.

  • Speech is becoming clearer but may still be difficult to understand for unfamiliar listeners or people who do not know your child well.



  • Compares objects using words like "bigger" or "shorter."

  • Tells you stories from books or videos.

  • Understands and uses more location words such as "inside," "on," and "under."

  • Uses articles like "a" or "the" when speaking, as in "a book" or "the dog."

  • Pretends to read alone or with others.

  • Recognizes signs and logos like "STOP."

  • Pretends to write or spell and can write some letters.

  • Correctly pronounces the sounds t, k, g, f, y, and –ing in words.

  • Says all the syllables in a word.

  • Produces the sounds at the beginning, middle, and end of words.

  • By age 4 years, speaks smoothly and does not repeat sounds, words, or phrases most of the time.

  • By age 4 years, speaks clearly enough that most people can understand them, though they may still make errors on sounds that develop later, like l, j, r, sh, ch, s, v, z, and th.

  • By age 4 years, pronounces all sounds in consonant clusters with two or more consonants in a row, like the "tw" in "tweet" or the "-nd" in "sand," but may not produce all sounds perfectly, for example, saying "spway" for "spray."



  • Produces grammatically correct sentences that are longer and more complex.

  • Includes main characters, settings, and uses words like "and" to connect information and ideas to tell stories.

  • Uses at least one irregular plural form, such as "feet" or "men."

  • Understands and uses location words like "behind," "beside," and "between."

  • Correctly uses more words for time, such as "yesterday" and "tomorrow."

  • Follows simple directions and rules to play games.

  • Can locate the front of a book and identify its title.

  • Recognizes and names 10 or more letters and can usually write their own name.

  • Imitates reading and writing from left to right.

  • Blends word parts, such as "cup" + "cake" = "cupcake," and identifies some rhyming words like "cat" and "hat."

  • Produces most consonants correctly, making speech understandable in conversation.


Speech & Language Milestones*

Girl learning from a therapist

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association publishes guidelines for speech and language skills that the average child can achieve by the time they reach a certain age. Every child is different. However, you can use these guidelines to determine if your child might benefit from a speech-language evaluation.

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page